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OVH are the largest French hosting company on the net, and the second biggest in Europe, and they host over seven and a half million sites across four state of the art datacenters. They’ve been around since 1997 and despite offering a slightly different service to many providers, their own brand of hosting has made them well respected across the industry. They offer shared, RPS (real private servers) and dedicated server hosting, and are best suited to users who can manage their own sites without extensive technical support.
There are four different options available here, each coming with unlimited bandwidth, a free domain name, and the generally well-thought-of OVH Manager control panel to handle reboots, reinstalls and emergency situations. The limitless bandwidth also means your site can handle as many visitors as you can attract to it without needing to upgrade your hosting plan. OVH’s basic ‘Personal’ plan will cost you just £1.99 a month, which includes a mere 25GB of disk space, and while this isn’t a great amount compared to some of the competition, finding unlimited data transfer allowances at this low price is a rare thing indeed. Each upgrade will increase the available disk space, email and SQL accounts, and each plan above Personal includes a sizeable Pro SQL account. However, even the ’Premium’ option, the most expensive at £19.99 a month, comes with just 500GB of disk space, when that at that price you might expect to get unlimited disk space.
Real private servers are not as common as VPS (virtual private servers), and they differ from virtual ones in that you receive use of your own physical server, instead of a virtual partition on one, though this server still shares its hard drive with many others. The RPS options available from OVH make up one of the broadest ranges you’ll find: five basic servers with increasing RAM, from which you can customize your package. The simplest package, RP1 at £9.99 a month, comes with 20GB of disk space and 512MB of RAM, and a 1MB/s minimum disk access speed – however, this performance can be quadrupled for £10 a month more, and for another £10 you’ll get 10 times the original speed, so upgrading certainly pays. Additional memory can also be purchased, at £2 per 10GB for base level access speed (i.e. 1MB/s) computers, and increasing in price for the higher performance models, up to a maximum 1TB of space, so there is plenty of room for customization and scalability.
This high degree of choice is also preserved in the dedicated server options. Each server comes with a choice of operating system, from Linux, Windows, BSD and Solaris, and then allows a choice of control panel beyond this. Their four Intel servers range in price from £49.99 to £269.99 with increasing RAM, and all have unlimited monthly data allowances. Every package also comes with a lengthy servicing and support plan. The service level agreement for 99.9% uptime is expected, but the lifetime guarantee on parts is not something every provider will include. OVH also staff their datacenters 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and their constant monitoring of the servers means they promise to intervene during any minor incidents - such as faulty components - within an hour, and resolve the problem in four hours or less. If something should happen, OVH will also alert users by SMS and email as to the nature of the issue and the on-going work towards fixing it, which gives a good idea of the company’s user-friendly ethos.
Customer support is a crucial part of any hosting service, and OVH’s position here will certainly divide opinion. Though they offer step by step tutorials online and a ticketing system, their phone support is available during working hours of weekdays only, and concerns just hardware support issues. Their cover for these problems is generally held in very high regard, thanks in part to the constant manning of their support centers, but they will not assist in the simpler aspects of setting up a site, such as problems with mail servers or applications. This is stated in their contracts and means they are really only suitable for users who already possess this technical knowledge.
OVH are a distinctive brand aimed at users who already know what they are doing online and just need high specification hosting and hardware support. Many of their plans, including the basic hosting options, are good value due to their unlimited bandwidth, so if you feel confident doing without extensive support, they might have what you need. As with any provider though, be sure to compare them to the competition - our Top 10 list is a great place to start.
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